US CAR sales jumped to their highest level of the year in July as Americans took advantage of the government’s cash for clunkers scrappage scheme, according to industry figures released yesterday.<br /><br />Ford, led by chief executive Alan Mulally, posted a two per cent increase in sales, its first rise in nearly two years, while other major car firms said sales showed signs of stability. Carmakers credited the success of the US government’s $1bn (£591m) scrappage programme with lifting industry-wide sales back above 11m units on an annualised basis.<br /><br />The scheme, based on similar moves by European governments, offers consumers taxpayer-funded rebates of up to $4,500 to swap older, less fuel-efficient cars, for new ones.<br /><br />The sudden boom in the last week of July encouraged investor expectations that carmakers will restart production in the coming months.<br /><br />Subaru said its US sales leaped 34 per cent in July. Hyundai said its sales jumped 12 per cent, while Toyota, whose sales have taken a beating in the downturn, posted a slower sales decline of 11 per cent. Chrysler posted a nine per cent sales decline, but this was also a smaller drop than the firm has seen in recent months. General Motors’ sales were down 19 per cent.